Try to Improve Not to Succeed

WritingEdmond Lau wrote a very interesting answer over on Quora. Referring to a number of studies, the short version is that aiming to improve your skills works better than aiming to succeed.

Essentially, if I’m performing a task, say, writing a novel, I should be focusing on learning and improving the book over the last one. It’s all too easy to set my sights on writing a best-seller.

It’s understandable, of course. I want to quit my day-job and write full time. I have a good day-job, but it’s not something I want to do for the rest of my life. I view writing books as the way out. However, the first book I published was never going to do that for me.

Writing books, like most things, is a mix of thoughts and emotions. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was thirteen, so that’s a 27 year goal. If you told me I’d never be a successful author, I’d still keep writing. However, my books have the potential to earn enough money that I could write full-time.

It’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that I keep wanting to chase. At the same time, I do focus on becoming a better writer. I published my tenth book on the 1st June, a book that I believe (and readers agree) is leaps and bounds better than the first one I published.

If I keep improving, I think I can potentially join the ranks of full time authors, but the focus should be on the potential to get better, rather than the goal. Keep getting better and the goals will just happen.


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